Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What I Wish I Would've Known: Divorce

 I've been thinking lately about my divorce and how the last year {or even two years} played out. I made it through some pretty awful days but there are things I look back on and think, "Wow...I could've handled that a lot better than I did."
Because trauma can cause you to do some pretty crazy things and feel some pretty crazy feelings.

So I wanted to talk about that today; what I wish I would've done differently in my divorce.

I wish I wouldn't have yelled so much.
I wish I wouldn't have yelled at my husband and my parents and my children and myself. I wish I wouldn't have projected my anger at the people I love the most. Maybe my husband could understand why I was yelling because of the pain his choices were causing me. But my family members? No. Even if they understood and were patient, I could have dealt with my anger a little more healthy than I did. I could've smashed plates or thrown rocks at the wall or punched my pillow over and over instead of stuffing my anger until it exploded randomly at whoever was nearest.
I wish I wouldn't have gone numb for so long...and I also wish I could've stayed numb longer. Because right after he left, I went into fight or flight mode and I chose to fly away as far as I could go and pretend like everything was fine. I convinced people I was amazingly strong and that I wasn't lonely but the worst part was that I convinced myself I was amazingly strong and didn't need to grieve like a normal person.
So when the numbing went away, it was horrible. Instead of feeling the pain and heartache in the moment, I was flooded with it all at once, months after the fact.

I wish I wouldn't have doubted myself.
When my husband left, I was firm in my belief that my ability to cook and clean wasn't the reason he left. It didn't matter that he had told me those exact words, I knew it wasn't true. But after the numbing went away, I started to doubt my ability to be a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, and really, I just doubted my ability to be a good human being. I felt like I was worth nothing. My husband had never in our marriage said anything negative about my weight or my looks but because it was an insecurity I already had, I projected that as "the actual reason he left". It was the only thing that made sense to my broken brain. I didn't love my body so I just assumed he didn't love it either.
 I wish I would've asked for more help and felt less guilty when I received help.
Help during divorce is necessary. It just is. There were times I would be crying and a friend would stop by and just take my kids---no questions asked. I had so much help in some of my darkest times. But there were times when I needed help and should've let someone else into my home when I wouldn't. I felt guilty asking for more help but because of this, I had days that were harder than hard but that didn't have to be as hard as they were.
 I wish I would've thought about me more.
I thought about how divorce would affect my kids, how people would judge me, how people would judge my ex-husband, how my family would accept everything, and how unworthy I was. What I didn't think about was how much I was hurting and how much compassion I needed to have for myself. It was so easy having empathy for the hard things my children were going through and I even got to a point where empathy for my ex-husband became possible. But empathy for myself was non-existent. Instead I spent all of my "free time" at the gym or obsessing over my food intake or dreaming about dating and feeling anxious that no one would want to date me and making sure I was still spreading my time among my friends and dishing out time to new friends or numbing my mind with television.
I wasn't thinking about my heart and empathizing with the pain. I was beating myself down for all of the reasons I wasn't good enough. Self-care was non-existent even when it looked existent because I was doing things all for the wrong reasons. I was punishing myself, not loving myself.
I needed my own empathy. I needed to give myself compassion. And I didn't do it.
 I wish I wouldn't have gone off my anti-depressant.
Yup, it's true. I take drugs! I was on anxiety medication the day we separated because I had been getting anxiety for months leading up to the day that huge bomb was dropped on me---I now refer to that as my psycho-good intuition because there wasn't really any proof that things were really wrong. But I was worried that the numbness I was experiencing was as a result of my medication and I was worried that I'd go off the medication a year or two later and all of a sudden, I'd have all these pent up feelings from my divorce. So I went off of them right after our separation started. Weird. And the worst part was, it took me a while to realize how much that affected me during that time. I felt like the same old Suzanne but inside, I was going crazy. I was feeling crazy. I was experiencing anxiety that felt like what PTSD is described to feel like.
In case you're wondering, I no longer feel shame associated with my medication. My goodness, who freaking cares what people think of me swallowing a Zoloft every night? I get to choose what is best for me and I am choosing to help myself have a better life! So I'm sorry if you don't agree with that---actually I'm not really sorry but I do respect your opinion.
The main thing I wish I would've learned a year ago is that people make mistakes and that's ok.
A year ago, I was angry and I wasn't ok with the imperfections of others and my own imperfections. But it's ok that I made mistakes. It's ok that my ex-husband made mistakes. It's ok that my parents made mistakes.
Everyone does it.
We don't have some guide book to help us through our rough times. We figure it out on our own and sometimes, that includes a little trial and error {or a lot of it}.

Although there are things I wish I would've done differently, I've accepted that I can't change the past.

And the greatest part is, we've made it out alive so far! And not only are we surviving, most days we are thriving.

Divorce isn't the end of all happiness and peace.

I am happy. I have found peace.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fearfully, Faithfully, Beautifully

Once upon a time, there was a scared young woman who didn't like not knowing the future. She knew that the future could bring happiness but it was also full of uncertainty.

She was afraid to look in the mirror because she didn't know if she liked the person staring back at her.
She was afraid to be alone because the horrible stories in the news made her feel vulnerable to the world.
She was afraid to date because she knew what rejection felt like and it didn't feel good.
She was afraid to be herself because what if people didn't accept the real her?

Amidst her fears, friends would randomly say things like, "You are such a strong woman.", "My husband and I were talking about how any man would be lucky to have you as their wife.", "Thank you for helping me through that." and she wondered..."Do they see who I really am? Do they notice my flaws?"

The answer is yes, they do.

And they loved her anyway.

Because somewhere among the loudness and the lack of a filter and the short temper, they saw who she really was. They saw the good.

It was because of them that she continued to fight. It was because of what they saw in her that she began to notice some of the goodness too. She began to realize she isn't worthless or stupid or ugly.

She is loveable and funny and compassionate.

She couldn't have done this by herself. Even brave people need help. Two years of therapy, anti-anxiety medication, prayer, and love have helped her to be as brave as she could be. I don't believe God gave her this life because she was strong enough to live it. I believe He gave her this life because He knew He would help her live it. She isn't stronger than the average person. She is stronger than the girl she used to be.

And it's ok to not do it alone. It's ok to rely on professional help or need medication or some homeopathic remedy or friends and family. It's ok. It doesn't mean we aren't strong. Asking for help is a sign of strength. It takes bravery to know you cannot do this alone.

Some days, she wakes up and just feels so much compassion for herself and other days, she has to rely on the things people tell her. She has a list of compliments people have given her this past year to read on the days she has lost all faith in herself.

Today she is ready to fly.
Today she doesn't fear the future.
Today she trusts God's plan and knows that whatever happens, she is a fighter.
Also, she sees beauty today. In herself. In the world. In her future.

Friday, October 24, 2014

About A Boy

 I feel kind of bad that I slacked on the birthday posts this year. I'm usually blogging about my kids' bithdays the day after it happens because I'm so darn excited to talk about how special they are.

But work...and school...and being a single mom...and getting sick...you know, life happens!

So my Ninja boy turned FIVE! Have I mentioned he's my BABY?! And he's FIVE?!

It's true...

{Also I never mentioned I changed my kids' names on the blog. But I did. I let them pick because this is a blog about bravery and strength and my kids emulate that every day of their lives. So Spidey's name is now Ninja.}

Ninja is my favorite boy in the whole entire world.
He learned to crawl at 6 months old but refused to walk until he was 14 months old.
 He was born a climber. He could climb on my kitchen table at 9 months old. Hello, heart attacks!
 Ninja was a tiny baby. He was full term but weighed only 6 lbs 6 oz.
 That "small" thing changed quickly. At 2 months, he was over 12 pounds and by 6 months, he was close to 20 pounds. He was the squishiest baby and I loved to squeeze his arms and legs.
Around age 2, his chub turned back into teeny tiny and he's stayed there ever since. At his four year doctor's appointment, he was in the 4% for height and 6% for weight but this year, at his FIVE year check up, he went up to the 8% in height and 20% for weight. A small victory for a small boy. :)

Ninja is "the baby" and I guess I'm realizing I did that to him. He is my snuggly boy and I've let him get away with acting younger than he is. It's a HARD habit to kick but we are working on teaching him he is capable of chores and big boy talking and all that jazz.
 Ninja is a momma's boy. I love it. Lots of people told me I would LOVE having a boy because he would be a momma's boy but I didn't quite get it until he was born...and then I've loved every second of it. He has such a sweet heart and is so good at showing me he loves me.
 This FIVE year old is so quirky. His red hair and freckles are perfect for him because he is so silly and he love to be the center of attention.

He is a firecracker and often says the most random things.
 At FIVE years old, Ninja can write the first letter of his 8-letter name, he loves drawing pictures but usually they're scribbles, and he loves loves loves video games and Netflix.

Ninja is really intelligent and he learns things really well but if he doesn't want to learn it, he just won't do it. He likes to tell people, "I am in charge of me." and that is so true! It's something I've taught him over and over again. But he kinda uses that sentence to his advantage when he doesn't want to do things. {Sneaky boy...}
My ninja boy really thinks he's a ninja. That's why he picked that name. He is often found karate chopping the air or run at "super speed" around the house. Active is kind of an understatement when describing this boy. He is FULL of energy.

We had a great birthday for Ninja this year. It was so much fun going to Castles N Coasters and spending the day doing things he wanted to do. I look back on the past FIVE years with this boy and I can't imagine life without him. He has been such a blessing for me. He has snuggled up to me on my hardest days and made me laugh when I needed to laugh.

I am the luckiest mom in the world to have this little guy in my life.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Power of Letting Go

Remember that overused song, "Let It Go"?
Oh, you do?
Yeah, me too.
I kind of wish that song wasn't overdone on every Youtube channel and Facebook page and meme on Pinterest because I actually really love it.
When I sing it around the house, I belt it as loud as I can.
Because I know.
I know what the power of letting go can do for a person.
I have been the recipient of some pretty painful experiences brought on by the choices of others and although it hasn't been easy, I have seen the power of letting go of anger and turning that into empathy.
And I don't use the word power lightly.
When you are able to let go of the anger you have toward another person, you start to see them as a person who has faults, just like you and I. You start to recognize that the hurt they have caused is probably due to a more deep rooted problem and wasn't specifically directed at you.
I know for me, the person who has hurt me the most is a person I can relate to now. I understand him. I see the choices he has made and I could've been the one to make those same choices if I had been in his situation. I understand the fear of losing everyone you love. I understand the fear of shame and judgement. I get it.
I hate that I get it.
I hate that he felt that way.
I hate that so many people endure these same fears on a daily basis.
The second I let go of my anger, it became clear why this past year played out the way that it did.
I still don't love it. And I still wish I could've done something to change it.
But it wasn't mine to change.
The only thing I can do now is try to understand the situation and have empathy for everyone who was involved---and for me, that includes my ex-husband.
It includes the heartache my children have faced.
And it includes having empathy for myself.
When I make a wrong choice or I say something really stupid, I am going to try and have empathy for this imperfect person that I am.
She needs my love.
She needs my empathy more than anyone else in the world.
The hardest person for me to love is the person typing up this post. It is hard to look past every imperfection and see what other people can see. It is hard to process the thoughts in my head and realize they don't make me a bad person.
The power of letting go has allowed me to show empathy to the people around me who have hurt me.
When I let go, I am unstoppable---which is ironic since I have an eating disorder and OCD, two places where letting go is ESPECIALLY hard and where I feel like I'm in control. But the reality is that letting go means letting go of the reins and saying, "God, I may not understand all of this but I'm going to trust you anyway."
"Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway."
I have seen the middle of some pretty dark storms but with the help of my Heavenly Father, I have been able to endure them and find empathy for the creators of those storms.
{Warriors don't give up.}

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fearfully Brave

I shared this picture on my Facebook last Sunday because I was struggling to figure out how I was going to make it another day.
Last Sunday, I was so defeated. I had been parenting alone for over a week with only one 4 hour break. I hadn't had an overnight break from my kids in a month. My house had been hit by a tornado of messy, sticky children and I just didn't feel like I could keep up. And that Sunday night, I had found out that I was most likely going to be parenting alone for another 7 days.
It doesn't seem like a lot. It's just 7 days, right? But between work and school and meetings and homework and cleaning and parenting...I could barely stand the anxiety I was feeling.
I layed down on my bed and cried.

But after some sleep and snuggles from the children who make my life full of ups and downs, I took life one day at a time.
{And I do have to say that the kids' dad ended up taking off two days of work to help out}

The thing is, I will always be a work in progress. Divorce didn't come with some handbook on how to do everything correctly. I've gotten so darn angry sometimes, I've felt so defeated sometimes, and other times, I've felt immense amounts of relief and happiness. This isn't something I worked into my life and thought, "Well, that looks like it might be fun to try out!" I didn't birth two children with the intentions of raising them 75% of the time on my own.

So there are days I fall so far down that I'm not sure I can crawl my way to the top. There are days I get anxiety about really simple things because I'm afraid that my life could be ripped out from under me once again.

This life I live wasn't some dare. It wasn't about two stubborn people who weren't willing to work on their marriage so they just decided divorce would be easier. On August 23rd, 2013, divorce wasn't something I would've thought we would be facing and yet, a day later I was staring the possibility of divorce right in the face.

I deal with the backlash of divorce every day. My daughter still cries a lot that her dad isn't there to tuck her into bed most nights. Yesterday she told me that she will never be ok from all of this.

I got through this week because my friends and family carried me. I got through this week because I prayed and my Heavenly Father sent me miracles. I don't need these things every week but this week, I did. I needed extra help and it was there for me.

Life is just one challenge after another, mixed with a lot of beauty to make each challenge worth it. This week didn't disappoint. Along with the anger and the anxiety, I was filled with joy throughout each busy day. I was able to smile and laugh and be a mom and work and go to school and be successful. I was able to buy a new pair of shoes and take my kids out for a birthday dinner at Red Robin (Did I mention my little guy turns FIVE this week?!!). I was able to read scriptures with my kids before bed two nights and listen to General Conference with them this weekend.

It isn't all bad even though sometimes the bad tries to consume me and convince me that my life sucks.

Although I'm exhausted and I often feel unable to take another step, I've kept going so far and I plan to keep going from here on out.

I'm going to make it. You're going to make it.

The future I had hoped for has burned to the ground but in it's place, I can choose to rebuild a new future.

I'm going to make it.

It doesn't matter what I face. I have faith that with the help of my family and friends and my God, I will be able to wake up to a new tomorrow each and every day.

When I am consumed with fear, someone always seems to be there to remind me that I am worth it. I am worth every ounce of love another person is capable of giving. Although I was abandoned and heartbroken last year, I am still worthy of love. I am worthy of someone's eternity.

I am worthy because I am a daughter of God and I believe He has a plan for me.

I am brave because I chose to wake up and live today.

I am breathing through my fears and that is brave.

Being brave does not mean never being afraid.